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It may be a little late for Easter, but delighted aquarists at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium are celebrating after their clownfish laid more than 500 eggs.
The orange and white striped fish lay their eggs among the stinging tentacles of anemones and now staff are keeping their fingers crossed that the eggs will hatch.
Clownfish have become hugely popular with visitors following the release of the Disney blockbuster Finding Nemo.
Blue Reef’s Lindsay Holloway said he has been amazed at the level of interest in the brightly-coloured fish ever since the film became a worldwide hit.
“Clownfish have always been popular with visitors, mainly because they live inside the stinging tentacles of sea anemones but now virtually every person visiting the aquarium - especially those with young children - ask to see them.
“As well as being a great indication of the health of our fish, the fact that they are laying eggs in captivity also helps ease pressure on wild populations,” he added.
Clownfish make their home among the stinging tentacles of sea anemones. Both species have a symbiotic relationship - the clownfish are protected from predators by the stinging tentacles and the anemone picks up scraps of food dropped by the fish.
The clownfish are thought to be able to survive among the venomous tentacles because they cover their bodies with a layer of mucous secreted by the anemone. The anemone then thinks the clownfish is another tentacle and doesn't sting it.
During breeding the eggs are laid close to the host anemone and cared for by the male who will often encourage the anemones tentacles to provide a protective canopy above the developing fish.
Clownfish fathers are so protective that they have even been known to attack divers who venture too close to their young!